Business networking for CFO is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting method you can use to grow your business. But if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your business.
Business networking is a lot more than giving out business cards. It is about building trust. For CFO the networking is a lot more than meeting people. It is about connecting with the right people.
Business networking is a lot more than collecting phone numbers. It is about staying in touch, about listening, addressing needs and looking for opportunities all at the same time.
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It is how as a CFO we approach relevant business networking sessions that makes it work for us. Networking is about being authentic and genuine, building relationships and trust, and helping others. Although increased sales is the end goal, don’t participate in business networking to sell.
Build relationships and sales will follow naturally. People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. Put your energy, intention and attention on business networking.
Are you starting a new business? Or maybe you already have a small business? Whichever is the case you will no doubt have made business plan, forecast your cash flow and probably frightened yourself as to where all your money has gone.
In order to generate new business it's essential to market your business and certainly this can be a very costly business. Advertising is seriously expensive and in my mind it works best for those already with an established brand because it's about recognition and repetition, so unless you're already in the league of Coca Cola it's probably not a good solution.
Business networking is not about a closed shop where everyone gives each other work, it's much more powerful than that. It's fundamentally about the act referring business to people that you have grown to know, like and trust, and for them to do the same for you. Understanding how to give a quality referral is an art itself and something that I cannot cover today so for the time being let's just consider the benefits of business networking.
It is not a well known fact but 70% of new business that your company gets is through word of mouth. Networking allows you to formally explain what your business is about and as fellow networking business people get to know you so you will naturally start to win new sales leads because people like to pass business to people that they know.
Simply attending a networking event will raise your profile especially if you network on a regular basis. Remember my earlier point about advertising; recognition and repetition, attending a regular networking event achieves this.
Not only do you have the opportunity to present your business, you also get to meet with a lot of business people from other walks of life that will inevitably be able to help solve some of your problems. And you will be able to do the same, it's all part of the relationship building process and at the end of the day it's this relationship that counts when recommending someone's services.
You'll also get to know an awful lot of people that will be able to help you when you have a problem. Have you ever picked up the yellow pages and looked for a particular service? How do you choose? It really is hit and miss. By getting to know reliable contacts who can provide you with what you want and who can be trusted is worth so much in terms of your time and money.
Likewise, if there's no one in your network who can help, the chances are that someone knows someone who can and will recommend them. Suddenly you find that your business is moving forward at a much more rapid pace. Your confidence will soar!
Sharing experiences is also part of the game. Just talking to people about their experiences, their goals and their problems will stimulate lots of new ideas and open your mind to new opportunities. All of a sudden you have a completely new approach to doing something or even a new business venture that you may never have otherwise thought of.
Last but not least it's amazing how much satisfaction we all get from helping others.
There are many business networking techniques to learn in order to make the most of this style of marketing but once you've understood the basics, give it a little time and I'm sure that you'll soon understand the true power and benefits of networking.
Identify which networking events you should attend. Pick groups that’ll help you achieve your goals. Find venues that make sense for your business. When you register for an event, schedule it like a meeting.
Determine how often you should be networking. How many times in a week, month, or quarter? Visit as many groups as possible.
Attend events with a plan and always try to learn something new. Prepare yourself for the event. Develop open-ended questions to ignite a conversation. Bring business cards but don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Give cards to those who ask you for it. Try to sit with strangers. Don’t forget to mingle.
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Keep track of people you meet. Keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection. Establish a mutual beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients/ customers. Meet with the group members individually so you get to know them better and try to build quality connections. Consider other group members as resources. focus on the group; listen and think about how you can help them. Focus on giving. Build trust within the group.
In my experience of 20 years in consulting and industry, a typical successful Network Marketing guy would have the mindset of the owner of a mid-cap global company. Since you don't find many such people living next door, peoples difficulty in comprehending what they do - and this business - is natural. But if you look at any business, you will agree, here's what business needs:
2. Marketing Strategy
3. Training / Operations
4. Finance and
Let us look at each of these in the context of Network Marketing.
The product for network marketers is wide open. Anything can flow in the network. To give an example, in a telecom network, once your cables are laid, you can flow data, voice, video, text... whatever, through them. Similarly, a network marketer is actually in the business of laying the cables... comprised of consumers consuming good quality products. The focus is to maintain the robustness of the cable... the product per se, is immaterial. Several thousand international brands have partnered with Quixtar for instance, to tap into the strength of the networks Quixtar business owners have built. Numerous companies have partnered online through affiliate-ships for the same reason. So as a network marketer you can be sure you will always have a great product... or in fact various product lines... which would then be the least of your worries.
#2 Marketing Strategy
Since this is my pet subject I can write for hours on it but I won't. Because the strategy for success in network marketing is to reduce individual work and increase System work. By allowing a System to work every Network Marketer can leverage more from the team than by charting their own strategies. Robert Kiyosaki recommends Network Marketing so passionately because the marketing strategy is set in place by a System. True network marketers will search for a system for success and abide by it... and in doing so would change their everything... from mindset to finances to relationships!
#3 Training / Operations
Those of you who have engaged consultants in your business (and I mean like plumbers and baby-sitters in the business of running a house) know exactly how expensive this can be. But in Network Marketing you get Free operating advise from extremely successful business owners! Because they have a vested interest in your success. Every action of yours... the cost-benefit... the effectiveness... the impact... is well known in advance and you can follow footsteps to operate like the best.
This I believe is the most undervalued bonus of Network Marketing and for me personally, this alone has been worth a fortune. It is this advise that builds the mindset for leadership in all walks of life. And once that develops everything else is a cakewalk!
For any business to provide larger turnover and profit, the costs of operation increase. Right? Not so in Network Marketing. Here, though the business expands exponentially, the expenses remain at the same level (usually quite nominal and risk-free). Consequently this is the only business where you can be absolutely in control of cash-flow planning and growth. Which is a severe stress-point in any other business.
Secondly, since network marketing is a B-quadrant business (ref Robert Kiyosaki), the money comes in much after the work is done. It's like in farming, where you plant the seeds in one season and harvest the next season. This ruffles up a lot of people who are used to money-for-effort like in a job or sales (no guarantees about that now though. And this is why one must be open to training, to develop the mindset of the rich!
This is one area where traditional business and Network Marketing differ rather significantly. In a traditional business you 'pay' people to follow instructions. In Network Marketing you 'inspire' people to do that.
You yourself do what needs to be done and teach others how to duplicate the simplicity of that. This is why network marketers are basically in search of open-minded students. Just like the Rotary Club is in search of socially inclined business-persons and the Art-of-Living Community is in search of people willing to be navigated to a higher consciousness.
Net net, the business of Network Marketing is boundless and in 75 years of its presence on the planet we have barely scratched its surface. The business model is in search of an army of volunteers with an abundance mindset and a higher consciousness to awaken society and herald revolutionary change. Historically, such movements take a century on the make... and so the time for the Network Marketing movement has come!
PS: Business is business and network marketing - for its wonderful nature - is business 2.0... but network marketing as an instrument to uplift world consciousness is Business 2.1 and you can take it there! Contact me to know how.
Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible CFO you must show up regularly and on time, show others how you deal with business meetings and associates. Give quality referrals and leads. If someone gives you a referral, follow up on it in a timely manner. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Take a referral seriously.
Don’t spam on social networks. Use the platforms designed for CFO to build relationships and expand your network.
Limit self-promotion. Don’t sell. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can. Share relevant information with others as people love to learn new things. Participate in discussions. Let others know you’re real. Be approachable. Treat your online connections just as valuable as your offline connections.